It’s the colour of moon-light, doorknobs, and Slytherin — and it’s a colour Australia has been seeing a great deal of lately. At both Sydney and Athens, Australia placed an amazing 4th at the Olympics. This time they are placing 4th on only one tally: silver. So far, Australia has a whopping 12 silver, 7 bronze — but only 1 gold.
That we are 19th on the table is bad in itself, but certain individual nations we are losing to make it worse. Not only are we being beaten by less famous sporting nations — such as Kazakhstan — but we are being beaten by our cousins and rivals, the Kiwis! New Zealand is probably the only nation which could well be more sporty than Australia for its population, but their population is about 1/5th of Australia’s, so it’s a bit embarrassing to lose to them. Furthermore the British, who were without gold for several days, are quick to laughingly rub their eight gold into our losses.
Losses. Perhaps “losses” is not quite the right word. We have, after all, won 12 silver. Olympic silver is a truly remarkable achievement, but some how it often seems like a bit of a disappointment: rather than thinking of the multiple athletes which you have beaten, you think of the solitary athlete which you have failed to beat. Here is an article on the subject which was quite interesting.
(One of the best races of my life ended this way. I was leading the field for nearly a kilometre in 1500 metre of the ACT Little Athletics championships, and with 70 metres to go — by which time I felt utterly spent — the favourite for the race sprinted past like I was standing still. It was a bit disappointing, of course, but I reckon the next best thing to finishing like that myself is seeing someone else do it. In the end, actually, I got gold, because he was younger than me!)
Personally, I like Alicia Coutts’ attitude is better: she basically said that since she has worked really hard, anybody who beats her must also have worked hard — so she doesn’t begrudge them. Others might argue that it’s easy for her to say: in addition to her silver she has a bronze and is one of the ones who one our only gold. Nevertheless, I think she has a good attitude.
It is not all over for gold just yet. Despite being much weaker on the track than in the pool, we have got a few chances left. Hopefully Sally Pearson can get us a meddle tomorrow night with her 100 metre hurdles — and the sailor, Tom Slingsby, should easily get gold too.
But at the end of the games, I bet Australia will have the greatest silver to gold ration of any top 30 team.